The Thief is often after the Spirit's fruit in our lives, trying to pluck peace right off the branches. He's sneaky too, as I well know. As soon as this baker turns her back, he, like a conniving child, deftly approaches the window to swipe the cooling pie. Before I realize what is happening, my peace is gone and I am left rather twisted up inside.
Breathing in and out only seems to go so far as I prepare to face the day with this contorted pretzel of a heart. When it is 7 am, and I am already asking 'How fast can I get through the day so I can start all over tomorrow?', something has gone seriously awry.
An Imitator knows what to do though. An Imitator hears the whispers of the Spirit, "Be anxious for nothing" and her frantic fingers frolic to Philippians 4 so she can see the words she has read a million times. An imitator reads about the "guarding" nature of the peace of God. The kind of militant guarding that protects the heart and the mind from enemy attacks as well as keeps her from wanting to flee from what should keep her safe--i.e. the peace of her God. She begins to understand that His peace is about remaining in close connection with her Protector.
Ah, the List. Yet another familiar verse boldly leaping off the page telling her that the way to rid herself of "pretzel heart" is to think on the Far Better, the Greater Eternal things. How many are there? Eight...the number of hours in a typical work day. It doesn't escape her that she knows she needs Him every hour. What if each hour of this Everest-sized work day was spent thinking on each of those different things?
What is true? God is good, sovereign, holy, righteous, loving, gracious and true. He never fails or forsakes. His Word is The Truth in a world of falsehood. He whispers those truths.
What is honorable? Prayer for those saints that need it. Noble actions I can take even this hour that put another above myself.
What is right? The Biblical calls to justice. Fighting for the weak, encouraging the fainthearted, Valiant ways of upholding God's standard. The zeal of the Lord to protect the innocent.
What is pure? Void of lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride in possessions. Conversations free from gossip, slander, malice, coarse joking, complaining. Filled with holiness and clean motives.
What is lovely? All the lovable things God has made from nature to laughter.
What is commendable? Gracious thoughts towards others which can start by dwelling on the gracious nature of God Himself. Forgiveness. Favorable thoughts toward God, others, and even self.
What is excellent? Ethics, virtues, morals. The power of God.
What is worthy of praise? Why, none other than God Himself and His deeply diverse character.
There isn't much room for empty calories when her thoughts can feed on such valuable nutrition. When she takes all of "these things" into account, how can every passing hour not be fully satisfied in His rich peace? If this is what brings the "peace that surpasses understanding," then oh! may she willingly choose to set her mind on things that are above and not on things that are on earth.
For that will make any Imitator a better copy of the Original.
I don't know if Leo DiCap (as I affectionately call him) is still hooked up to the machine or what, but I must be. Lately ideas have been bombarding my brain showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. My environment may be a factor. Certainly being around another creative type has some sort of stimulating effect on my own mind. Additionally, all this "free" time allows for many mental "Sunday afternoon" strolls, as it were. I'm also not shoulder-deep in snow or in core-chilling temperatures as the rest of the country seems to be right now which prevents that proverbial black cloud from hovering over my being. There is some sort of unique shrouding happening not just with my environment but with my soul. Yes, a "soul shrouding."
Pathetic though it my seem to certain ones of you, readers, I have desired to find myself in such a circumstance. It has its obvious disadvantages, as I've mentioned in previous posts, but the advantage of mental and physical space to dream is RARE. Never do I want to discard such an obvious present, if not for myself then for those who yearn for yet cannot have it, for one reason or another. I recently watched someone make those giant bubbles with a large ring and some soapy water. He handled the ring with such care so as not to lose the water prematurely. If he executed his task correctly, the wind helped create this floating iridescent orb of beauty. The good ideas look like this. And, incidentally, I FEEL like that bubble in the graceful and playful dance my mind does with that moment of brilliance.
But sometimes, actually most times it seems, along the way, that bubble, and all its colorful vividness bursts. Reality burdens those light, exciting ideas to the point that they gain girth and deep discouragement sets in, the kind you can feel in your bones. And why? Because of those lousy limitations of time, money, human resources, and my own lack of ability and skill. It becomes painfully clear that I've been deceived. They wore a beautiful veil, but behind was this obese darkness. They looked like they were floating, but were woefully stagnant. Their masks belied their true nature: only murky potholes riddled with despair, interrupting my life because they hinder pleasant passage and progress. On days when my ideas look like this, I weep. I weep because I am convinced they are a curse, and nothing like the blessing of which they boasted. Those irritating restraints make me feel that it is pointless to even have the ideas in the first place.
And then I remember something significant. I remember SomeONE pretty significant. Someone who came to bring me LIFE, in whose presence there is fullness of JOY, THROUGH Whom and FOR Whom all things were CREATED. I remember someone else who comes to steal, kill and destroy, who prowls around like a roaring lion, not to nibble, but to DEVOUR.
So when all is stripped away, what remains? What is the TRUEST nature of an idea? Is it the bubble or the pothole?
Or is it something else entirely? What if ideas are not merely delightful beautiful bubbles of joy but powerful pockets of grace? And if I am to extend His love and His grace to others, is that in some way accomplished when I SHARE ideas? Almost like a detergent gel pack that unleashes this incredible power on all those dishes. What if the Thief's tactic is to annihilate, darken and defeat that idea so that not only am I crushed but so is the opportunity for another to enjoy God's grace? That is one crime to which I do NOT want to be an accomplice.
Finally, what if God has been purposefully sheltering me under those wings of His ("soul shrouding") so that He might flood me with His own creativity? Maybe the source of ABUNDANT life, also desires to bestow upon me grace upon grace. (John 1:16) Hallelujah, it is so.
I praise you, ETERNAL FOUNTAIN OF CREATIVITY for sharing all that you are and have with me, your wretched servant. May I not trample on the grace you continue to show me even after you have already shown me the greatest grace by giving me a future in heaven with you, where we'll have eternity, and your endless resources to actualize all YOUR ideas. Thank you for letting me borrow them so I can come to know who you are even more by the ideas that you give. Amen.
Maybe ideas aren't your thing. Maybe this makes no sense to you at all. But what GRACE pockets does He give that are as endless as He is?
Something pretty powerful occurred to me today. Have you ever had that happen? Where your jaw drops in realization of this awesome thing that has been there all along but you are beholding for the very first time? I've had the privilege of being in a creative environment lately, fostering ideas that are ripe for the picking. But this one today was a by-product of none other than the Holy Spirit Himself revealing deep truth to my heart.
I've been overwhelmed lately with our GENEROUS and GRACIOUS God who apparently cannot help but GIVE. It seems that every time I open my Bible I read something like, "And the Lord GAVE..." Over four hundred times in Scripture giving is associated with God!!!! That is seriously significant. It's almost like it's central to his character or something.
Christmas spiritually (I won't say naturally because that just isn't true) brings out this concept especially when we consider the Gift of Jesus Christ. We reflect His Gift in giving gifts to others. What occurred to me today is that EVERY SINGLE GIFT IS DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO SOME SORT OF SACRIFICE. When we give to others, we sacrifice our time, our money, our talents, sometimes our sanity for that one moment of appreciation or at least acknowledgement by the ones we are desperate to show our love toward. Show me a gift and I'll show you the sacrifice. Giving always costs something. I know, I know, call me Captain Obvious. But this should make a difference.
Isn't it embarrassing when you leave the price tag on a gift you've given (or worse on one you've received)? We feel that the sacrifice should be kept a secret because it somehow suggests the value we've assigned one we love. In the case of our GIVING GOD, the price tag left on His gift is "My Son, Jesus Christ." Only He left it on His gift so we would know; He was not keeping it a secret. Do we appreciate this Gift, this Sacrifice in the same way we receive a gift from a friend or family member? We appreciate it for this one moment in time, during this season of the year but seldom show our joy and thanks at any other moment. Don't you want things to be different? I do. I want to enjoy the thrill of opening up His Gift every day so His sacrifice is ever on the forefront on my heart. It's hard to keep His sacrifice a secret when it resides on the tip of my tongue. Some days I might open it up slowly, savoring the pleasure of His grace. Other days, I shred the paper like many kids will do over the next couple of days to get to it as fast as I can so I can begin enjoying it ASAP. However I open it, the point is that I do. I want to remember, delight and revel in His Gift. For His Gift(Read Sacrifice) SAVED MY LIFE.
This idea of sacrifice leaves me speechless when I stand before GRACE Himself in the same way that my worthlessness makes me kneel in light of His HOLINESS.
Take time this year to be still and know that He is the GENEROUS and GRACIOUS GOD, who offered the willing SACRIFICE of His Son for you, undeserved one loved by a KIND and LOVING FATHER.
Brittany Van Ryn
Working out thoughts with HIM.